Admitting that the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was not the most well-suited track to him, Dino Beganovic was very pleased to secure fourth in a frenetic Qualifying session. It's a surprise result for the Swede that puts him firmly in the mix for both races this weekend.
Beganovic had slotted into provisional pole on his final attempt, but improvements by Josep María Martí, Taylor Barnard and Franco Colapinto ultimately demoted the PREMA Racing driver to the second row. Reflecting on the exhilarating session, Beganovic says he’s all about the bigger picture – keeping his Championship rivals in his mirrors.
“Qualifying was intense like it always is! It was all about putting it together for the last lap. I think everybody can say they had a bit more to give, but Pepe Martí was really strong so congratulations to him. From my side, I’m happy with P4 to be honest. I think it’s a really good starting position for Sunday, it’s a long way down to Turn 1, but also a good position for the Sprint when we do the reverse grid.
“I think there is the potential to get a good haul of points in both races. Our main competitors are behind us, which is a good point to takeaway. We’ve always seen progress throughout all these rounds, which I’m very happy about and it was the target from the beginning of the season.”
Having been watching from the cockpit in pitlane, Beganovic knew exactly what he needed to do as track conditions and low fuel ramped up the pace. Acknowledging that there was still some time left on the table, Beganovic says that it was his out-lap preparation that held him back from fully utilising his final set of hard Pirelli tyres.
“The last run was good, I just didn’t get the tyres in properly as I wanted. There were a few things that could have been better and fine tuning the driving a bit as well. P2 was possible, but I think everyone can say they could’ve improved when it’s so tight. It’s really tight in the F3 field, which is nice to see as well.”
Friday’s performance continues the theme of the Ferrari junior’s steady and consistent beginnings in Formula 3. Two podium finishes in six races, with two further top five finishes has meant Beganovic is up with the leading pack. Sitting fourth in the Standings on 46 points, he also managed to outqualify the trio ahead of him in the Drivers' Championship - Gabriel Bortoleto, Gabriele Minì and Grégoire Saucy.
Opting for a calm and measured approach rather demanding instant results, the PREMA driver says he’s already seen his progress pay off on track, enabling him to extract the most out of himself at venues which have proven to be stumbling blocks in the past.
“The expectations were to not ask too much of myself in the beginning. The plan is to be there and improve race by race, which I think we are doing very well. I’m learning all the time about the car and the Championship, and I think the four days of in-season testing were very important for me and for the team to get more laps in the car.
“I think we could see it in Monaco and more of it here in Barcelona. It’s also great to leave Monte Carlo with a good result coming in Barcelona and a good Qualifying, which makes me even more confident because it’s not my strongest track.”
Lining up ninth for the Sprint and fourth for the Feature Race places Beganovic squarely in the thick of the action. Already known for its high levels of degradation, the revised final sector puts tyres under a further strain. For Beganovic, it will be all about keeping them in check during the early phases to then light up the track in the vital closing laps.
“Overtaking is not the easiest here, but it’s possible. It’s definitely easier than Monaco! The big thing in both races, especially the Feature Race, will be tyre management because we know with the new layout that it will be much harder on the tyres. One key point for the race will be to keep an eye on who manages it the best, as they will end up in a really good spot for the last couple of laps.
“I think that’s where we will see most of the overtakes because some people will have been pushing too hard in the beginning and then struggling at the end. I think we’ll have interesting races to look forward to.
“To go away from here into the little break with a podium would not be too bad, but we need to be realistic. We’re starting in a good position for Sunday, so we have the opportunity to do it and the pace looks to be there. We are aiming quite high for Sunday and also on Saturday, there are plenty of points to take away.”